We met wedding photographer Lev Kuperman by chance. We were actually meeting with another photographer for our wedding and he explained that Lev would be helping with our shoot. As luck would have it, we actually loved Lev’s personality and his ability to capture special moments in a very unique, story-telling way. But mostly, we were just able to connect better with him. So we ditched the other photographer and made Lev our main man. That was nearly five years ago. Since then, Lev quit his day job to focus on his business. A very wise leap of faith, Lev! He and his wife, Rachelle, moved from Brooklyn to Maplewood, NJ and they had baby Noah in December of 2014. As if his schedule was not busy enough between travelling, shoots and family time, he is now also offering WRKSHP, an intensive workshop on wedding photography (sold out for its first session; more to come soon I’m sure). In this second installment of The Parenthood series, here`s a closer look into Lev`s day-to-day, with father being his most important title.
1. What is your daily routine?
Wake up with Noah around 7am. Make coffee, help with Noah’s morning feeding routine and make breakfast for Rachelle and I. Our nanny comes around 9am as Rachelle heads off to work, and I’m usually drinking my second cup of coffee by then and answering emails for a couple of hours. Then around noon I usually hit the gym or go for a long walk with our dog Hazel. Lunch afterwards and then on to photo editing for the next four hours. Answer more emails, edit more photos, make dinner, put Noah to bed, watch half a movie with Rachelle before we both pass out on the couch and then make our way upstairs to bed around 2am.
Baby Noah and Hazel (I can’t decide who is cuter!)
2. What is your typical breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?
Breakfast: Black coffee made in a Chemex, two organic eggs with mushrooms and spinach, sometimes sausage or bacon, and always avocado.
Lunch: I’ll either make grilled chicken with sweet potato and broccoli or if I’m super swamped I’ll order something simple like a couple of salmon avocado rolls with brown rice.
Dinner: We make chicken, steak and fish on our grill pretty regularly, usually with yams and some sort of vegetables and red wine. Sometimes if we’re lazy we’ll get take out Thai or Mexican or Sushi. Once in a while we’ll get pizza from a local brick oven place. Have been on a clean eating kick lately so haven’t had much pizza but the fat kid inside of me could eat pizza for basically every meal. If we can get a babysitter, we go into NYC for dinner. Our current favorites are Momofuku Noodle Bar and Rucola in Brooklyn.
Breakfast on a trip to the Catskills
3. What is your everyday style?
Hipster dad style, I guess. At home, it’s a v-neck T-shirt from J.Crew and shorts so I’m comfortable behind a desk, slip on Vans or Birkenstocks for running errands and Nike Free’s for gym and walks. If I’m going to a portrait shoot or to meet friends in the city I’m usually dressed in black jeans or chinos with a button down shirt (J.Crew, Urban Outfitters, Topman) and brown leather shoes (Timberland Wodehouse – my favorite shoes ever). I’ve had a few T-shirts creep into my wardrobe lately which I’m happy about.
Noah – hipster in the making
4. Tell me more about the work that you do. (Did you always know this is what you wanted to do? Do you go into an office or do you work from home? Do you love what you do? What does the future hold?)
I’m a wedding photographer and I absolutely love what I do. I work from home and travel all over for weddings and portrait shoots. I’ve always done creative things in my life as hobbies but I didn’t really know how to go about turning my love for something into a real career. It wasn’t until we started planning our wedding in 2009 that I realized how amazing wedding photography is and that people can actually make a living through it.
I decided to just dive in and learn everything I could about it and figure out how to establish a business. After a few years of working a day job and doing a full load of weddings, I decided that I had to quit my job to focus on weddings full time. That was almost three years ago and I have to say it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. As for the future, I’m just excited to see how I can grow my wedding business and branch off into commercial work as well. Rachelle is quitting her job to be with Noah during the day but the long term goal is for her to help grow my business. Exciting!!
5. What are some of the most memorable shoots that you’ve had? Why? (Was it because of the location, the couple, the actual event, etc?)
There have definitely been shoots in amazing locations and weddings with celebrity guests but honestly the thing that always stands out for me is my connection with the couples. Sometimes everything just clicks and you’ve got an amazing couple, in a beautiful location, having a wedding that’s totally unique to them and they’re in the moment and emotional and everyone’s crying tears of joy and as the photographer you’re given access to really moving and personal moments. My job becomes just being sensitive and in the moment right along with the couple and to capture moments in an honest way (while holding back my own tears).
A wedding in the Catskills
A close-up of a couple on their big day
6. Any advice for aspiring photographers/creatives?
Learn everything about your camera, become one with it (that was so cheesy, but still true). Your camera (or whatever you use as a creative) becomes your tool for personal expression and that’s essentially what you get hired for. Generic work sucks. Make something personal and people will connect with you.
(Note: I bet you can gain much more insight into the world of wedding photography through the WRKSHP.)
WRKSHP is a joint venture with Forged in the North (image by them)
7. When did you move to NJ? Why? Any favorite spots in the neighborhood?
We moved to Maplewood in May 2011 because we wanted more space and a simpler life. I’m a drummer and now I have a basement (only drummers will understand how amazing that is). I also have an office which is great. We can be in NYC in 35 minutes on the train which is actually shorter than it took us on the F train from Park Slope. As for local spots, there’s a really good bakery in town that has great coffee and pastries called The Able Baker.
A birds-eye view of Lev`s street
The drum set
8. How do you and Rachelle balance work and life? Any special tips?
It’s tough, especially with our baby Noah’s schedule. I think the key is splitting up responsibilities and chores so that no one gets resentful and making sure you have a regular date night where you can spend quality time together.
9. How often do you and Rachelle have a chance to go on a date night? Describe one of your favorite dates.
We go out once a week. Nothing too extravagant, just dinner and a movie. I think when Noah’s a bit older it will be easier to leave him for longer stretches of time with a babysitter but for now we’re still in hibernation mode.
10. What advice would you give to Noah when he is ready to become a parent?
Oh geez. Really? I’d say work on yourself first, work on your relationships, work on your career, achieve your goals, become the best version of yourself. Then when your child arrives, smother them with love.